because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Monday, 29 January 2018

What you feel, you create

There’s a quote about how, if you keep moving forward step-by-step, one day you’ll look back and see that you’ve scaled a mountain.

This February I am looking back, and it is from the highest height I never thought I would reach.

At the beginning of 2016, I moved to London. I had undiagnosed depression in my bones, a book on the way, and nowhere to live.

I stayed with friends for a few weeks, sharing beds and making do with couches and blankets and then, for four weeks of consistency, sub-letting my brother’s place where I distracted myself from feeling rootless by talking to the cat and swiping on Bumble.

I knew I wasn’t okay. I’d been isolated for much of the previous eighteen months, travelling from Italy to Russia to Bali to India. All I had known is that I wanted to live as cheaply as possible and write a book. What I hadn’t understood is that a nomadic life with laptop in hand isn’t as good for the soul as the articles online has suggested. I wrote a book, and then I sold it, but I was lonely.

Time ran out on finding a home. I remember having a coffee date with a guy who had just sold his TV idea to the BBC, and I thought he was lovely and funny and kind and so walked from Islington’s Upper Street to Stoke Newington’s Church Street happily enough, wondering what it was to build a life.

I loved the house the moment I crossed the threshold.

I moved in and let myself break.

It happened when I was building a bed.

I had given up most possessions to travel. I didn’t own furniture or a lot of clothes. I didn’t have money to buy much, save for a cheap bed frame and a paper-thin mattress, two good pillows and a heavy duvet.

I cried when I built the bed. I cried when I built the bed because I was alone, and had nobody to help me, and didn’t know how to reach out to ask somebody to lend a hand, because there wasn’t anybody. I didn’t really know anybody. There was my brother, and a friend down the road, but I’d imposed on them already. So I built the bed myself, letting silent tears become heaving sobs.

I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed, but goddamn I built the thing.

There is more around me, now. The walls are pink and the posters have been framed and I still have that awful cheap bedframe, albeit with a much better mattress, but part of me can’t bear to throw it away.

I published a book, and then another one, and I got medication for the sadness that tugged on my belly.

I found a local coffee shop where they came to know my name, and a yoga studio with an instructor who tells us not to worry about the poses – to just breathe.

That’s about as good advice as I’ve ever heard.

Just breathe.

Breathe, and do what you can.

Did you know I run an online writing course called "Don't be a Writer, be a Storyteller"? It's only happening once this year, in March, and registration opens on Friday. You can find out more here.

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